Charles Hawkins came to umpiring at a time when the VFL list was expanding rapidly to fill the demand from country leagues for competent and independent umpires. His career path was like so many others yet he still found a way to stand out and remain in the memories of his contemporaries some four decades later.
Born in Melbourne in 1926, Charles Wilson Hawkins grew up in the Caulfield area and served in the merchant navy during the Second World War aged 18. On discharge from the service he took up umpiring, beginning in the Caulfield-Oakleigh competition and then, in the footsteps of his Caulfield neighbour, Jim Barwick, to the VFL Reserve Grade. Charles was appointed to the VFL senior list of umpires in 1951.
Like everyone at the time, and for many years to come, he began the circuit of country football matches gradually gaining experience. His first country final was the Sale District League Second-Semi in 1954.
Small of stature, Charles had a big heart and a number of umpires commented that it was a pleasure to travel with him on trips to the country by either taxi or train. The other memory that stayed with them was his assistance at tax time.
As an employee of the Australian Taxation Office he was able to advise umpires on legitimate claims to include on tax returns. Items such as shorts, shirts, socks, white and black boots. He would also hand deliver returns for his colleagues direct to the then Lonsdale Street office.
Charles’s final season with the VFL mirrored most of the others, covering Victoria and finishing with a final. His last match was at Yarram – the Alberton Reserves First Semi. At that years Annual General Meeting he had been presented with Life Membership of the VFLUA.
Hawkins continued umpiring in other competitions until 1964 when a recurring injury from his service days ended his umpiring career completely.
During and after his VFL days he was also President of the Taxation Sub-Branch RSL and for his services was awarded life membership of that organisation.
Charles Hawkins was a 10-year country field umpire who served football and his fellow umpires with distinction. He passed away on 5 August 2006, aged 80, and will be missed by his large and loving family and those who knew him. Vale Charlie.